Dr Thwaites, who joins from King's College London, succeeds Dr Jeremy Farrar, who left the Programme to become Director of the Wellcome Trust. As well as leading the Vietnam Research Programme, Dr Thwaites is resuming his clinical research on tuberculosis and brain infections with an academic appointment at Oxford University.
The Vietnam Research Programme is recognised internationally for its excellence in research into infectious diseases. It is hosted by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City and the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, and it is home to the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU). The Programme has made seminal contributions to improving the care of patients and understanding infections of the brain, dengue emerging infections, enteric fevers, malaria, tuberculosis and zoonotic infections.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr Thwaites said: "I am thrilled and honoured to become Director of the Wellcome Trust's Vietnam Research Programme and OUCRU. This is probably the most exciting job in clinical infectious disease in the world.
"The great strength of the Programme is that it is fully integrated into the large Vietnamese government hospitals and has extensive collaborative links across the country and with our associated units in Nepal, China and Indonesia. The opportunities to influence and improve the practice and prevention of a range of important infectious diseases in the hospital, the city and globally are unparalleled.
"Dr Thwaites qualified at Cambridge University and the United Medical and Dental schools of Guy's and St Thomas' and trained in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in Brighton, the OUCRU in Vietnam, and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London. His research interests focus on the management of severe bacterial infections (especially those involving the central nervous system), and he has previously received Wellcome Trust fellowships to study tuberculous meningitis at the OUCRU and to investigate genetic variation in the bacteria that causes tuberculosis at Imperial College London.
In addition to his research, Dr Thwaites helped to found the UK Clinical Infection Research Group, a network of UK clinical infection specialists interested in addressing problems in the management of severe bacterial infections through large, multicentre clinical trials.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "We are delighted to welcome Guy Thwaites as Director of the Vietnam Research Programme. Guy is an exceptional clinical investigator and highly respected in the clinical infectious disease community. I am personally delighted to leave the Programme in such capable hands and look forward to seeing it flourish under Guy's leadership and the entire team."
Established in 1991 in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in 2006, the Vietnam Research Programme aims to tackle national health problems and improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious and non-infectious diseases – many of which are also challenging global health issues. The Programme collaborates widely across Vietnam and with research groups in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nepal, Singapore and Latin America.
The OUCRU is also a major partner in the South-east Asia Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network, a multinational group that strives to advance scientific knowledge and clinical management of infectious disease through integrated, collaborative clinical research.
In addition to its research activities, the Programme has a formal training programme with 40 Vietnamese PhD students and more than 20 Master's students currently registered for degrees at Vietnamese or international universities and with the focus of research firmly centred on Vietnam. The Programme also has a very active public engagement team, engaging local communities and beyond on the significance of the exciting research that is conducted there.